- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2005

‘Gloom and doom’ reporting

Is it just me, or do some members of the media only report polls when the results favor the positions of their editorial boards? Fresh numbers on the highly charged debate over Social Security reform indicate a shift toward President Bush’s message that a crisis looms and that personal retirement accounts should be a component of broad reform (“Bush assures seniors on reform,” Nation, March 19). Good luck finding that tidbit anywhere; it’s all gloom and doom in most newsrooms.

The truth is that a Washington Post/ABC News poll last week found that despite an aggressive campaign of misinformation by the AARP and its cohorts, a whopping 72 percent believe that Social Security is headed for a crisis and must be reformed.

Also encouraging is that support for private accounts is inching back up again. As you aptly reported, an Ayres, McHenry & Associates poll found that 58 percent of registered voters over the age of 55 think private accounts are a “good idea.” Even worse for AARP, a slight majority of its own members admit the system is in a state of crisis and are willing to consider the president’s proposals.

These are crucial numbers that indicate the more we know the truth, the more we recognize the need to act now to save America’s safety net. It’s irresponsible of your colleagues in the media to pay short shrift to polls that contradict their own anti-reform agendas.

JASON WRIGHT

President

Institute for Liberty

Fairfax

All eyes toward China

On March 14, China’s national legislature overwhelmingly approved an anti-secession law authorizing a military attack to stop Taiwan from pursuing formal independence (“Rice sees China’s move on Taiwan as sign for EU to forgo arms sales,” World, March 16). However, the fact is that since its inception in 1949, China has never exercised any jurisdiction over Taiwan. Taiwan has been a de facto country since 1949.

Two days after China’s action, on March 16, Congress passed a resolution (HCR 98), by a 424-4 vote, stating that China’s law “provides a legal justification for the use of force against Taiwan, altering the status quo in the region, and thus is of grave concern to the United States.”

Section 2(b)(3) of the Taiwan Relations Act, which codified the basis for continued relations between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan, made clear that the U.S. decision to establish diplomatic relations with China rested on the expectation that the future of Taiwan would be “determined by peaceful means.”

Now that China has aggressively framed a legal basis for military actions against Taiwan, it is time to rethink. Perhaps the most effective way to uphold a thriving young democracy, avoid a military confrontation and protect the peace and stability in the region is to adopt a free-trade agreement and establish normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

SHYU-TU LEE

Vancouver, Wash.

The anti-Taiwan secession law, passed March 14 in China’s “People’s Congress” with nearly 3,000 yea votes and zero nays, shows the degree to which China interferes in the affairs of its democratic neighbor (“Anti-secession China menace,” Commentary, March 13). These are the lopsided numbers we usually see in rogue states such as North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Despite China’s emergence as an economic power, it is quite obvious that its political development remains mired in a communist autocracy.

As a Taiwanese-American, I take solace in the fact that Europe has taken notice of this belligerent stance, and now support for ending its arms embargo with China is waning.

I must not only thank the U.S. Congress, but also credit Beijing’s arrogance, for its effort is keeping European technology out of the hands of a country that has shown nothing but disregard for anti-proliferation treaties and a willingness to invade a politically evolved neighbor.

LINDA FU

Flushing, N.Y.

A second opinion on Sherman

Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s merciless warfare on the aged, women and children was “obscene.” Wesley Pruden’s observation (“Playing Ping-pong with Condi Rice,” Pruden on Politics, March 15) that he was a terrorist was not, though Philip Forsberg described it that way in his Friday letter to the editor, “Sherman no terrorist.”

Bypassing the politically correct cant of the winning side, Sherman was single-handedly responsible for the burning of thousands of civilian homes; the encouragement of raping and looting by his troops; and the destruction of surrendered cities, such as Columbia, S.C.

Moreover, Sherman’s reign of terror became so legendary abroad that he and Gen. Philip H. Sheridan were invited to Germany after the war to instruct the German general staff in warfare against civilian populations. Later, Sherman and Sheridan gained notoriety for their campaign of genocide against the American Plains Indians. Sheridan authored the aphorism “The only good Indian is a dead one” but according to The Oxford Companion to Military History “the directing intelligence” of the genocide “was Sherman’s.”

I do agree with Mr. Forsberg’s assertion that Mr. Pruden runs “arguably the best newspaper in the United States.” However, if being a terrorist means warring on helpless civilians, Sherman deserves a doctorate in terrorism.

RICHARD HINES

Alexandria

Public supports reform

Contrary to what reform opponents and one supposed “insider” says (“Fooling Congress,” Inside Politics, Tuesday), no one “foisted” campaign finance reform on the Congress or the country. We don’t know the motivations of the purveyor of this fanciful tale, but we do know that Americans were outraged at how the soft-money system favored wealthy donors at the expense of the public interest.

The public support for reform was clear: 64 percent of Americans thought soft money should be banned, while just 25 percent were opposed, according to a July 2000 New York Times poll.

We also know there is no topic on which an effort to fool Congress would be less likely to succeed. All 535 members of Congress know and care a great deal about federal election law because they have to live under those laws in their own bids for office.

Both houses were deeply engaged in the debate over our bill and in shaping the law on the books today. Our bill passed the Senate after seven years of effort, including an historic two weeks of open debate in which 38 amendments were offered and 17 were adopted.

The House had a similarly long struggle and extensive debate, which included a highly unusual 11 days of consideration over three full months in 1998.

Finally, we know that the McCain-Feingold bill succeeded in ending a system in which single contributions of hundreds of thousands of dollars were commonplace, and ushering in a new era of intense fund raising from small donors that left the political parties in better shape in 2004 than they were in 2000. Congress wasn’t fooled into passing the McCain-Feingold bill. It knew what it was doing, and it did the right thing.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD

U.S. Senate

Washington

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